Friday, November 12, 2010

I'm not dead yet! I feel happy...happy!

“What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”
--John Belushi as Bluto Blutarsky, Animal House
A few weeks ago, after some heavy rains, a few bloggers and the media started to declare the Harvest of 2010 over. Fortunately for all of us, they couldn’t have been more wrong. It is somewhat hard to believe, but here I am, almost mid-November, with Cabernet still hanging out in the vineyard. Grape growing, heck, farming in general, after all is much like gambling.

So I handed him my bottle
And he drank down my last swallow
Then he bummed a cigarette
And asked me for a light
And the night got deathly
quiet And his faced lost all expression
He said, "If you're gonna play
the game, boy
You gotta learn to play it right

You've got to know
when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin'
When the dealin's done

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what
to throw away
And knowin' what to keep
'Cause every hand's a winner
And every hand's a loser
And the best that you can hope for
Is to die in your sleep"
--The Gambler, Kenny Rogers

The Cabernet we left for now was “ok” by most standards a few weeks ago, but it
still needed more time to develop the incomparably beautiful color and intensity
of flavor that is expected of a Spring Mountain District Cabernet. After that
first rain, it was tempting just to go out and bring it in. After all, we were
already sitting looking at a “good hand”. The quality of this vintage has been
great, with intense colors and aromas…why not wrap it up early. After looking
hard at the long range forecast, we chose to “double down” and let it hang. Our
canopy still had mostly green leaves to it, so, we “let it ride”.

“Reverend, you've got balls as big as church bells.”
--Dabney Coleman as Jerry Caesar, Dragnet

Well, patience is definitely paying off. With temperatures at the top of Spring Mounain District in the upper 70s off and on the past week, and going into this weekend, more of the same, we have been dealt that magical fifth Ace into our hands. Sunday, we’ll start and finish our Petite Sirah (in all of 20 minutes…this is goes into a small wine club exclusive blend) and then move onto our Cabernet Sauvignon. Dad and I have observed no mildew in the vineyard, the sugars and acids are nicely balanced, and the color…did I mention the color? It’s been a long, drawn out harvest that definitely required careful farming and patience, but I believe, once it’s all in…in its own time…it is going to be a vintage to remember.

Until next time...


Andy Schweiger, Winemaker, Schweiger Vineyards

Follow me on Twitter: SchweigerWine

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fall 2010 on Spring Mountain!

Photo by Greg Wright

The 2010 grape harvest at Vineyard 7&8 officially finished on October 22nd with a fever pitch that many in the Napa Valley were also experiencing. It was a week of eighteen hour days, coordinating picks both on the Estate as well as from our growers on Spring Mountain, crews being pushed hard and fast.

Now that all the grapes have been happily fermenting away in tank, and the early morning picking days are behind us for another year, time now allows for reflection on the 2010 harvest.

While there is no denying the challenge of the weather this year, as our fruit came in this year, our Winemaker Luc Morlet and I continually looked at each other with satisfaction with the quality being received. We noticed much less shriveling than in years past, more moderate sugar levels, and a quality of tannin in the Cabernet both from our Estate vineyard and growers vineyards on Spring Mountain that was superb.

Originally we had thought our yields would have had to be down overall compared to last year due to the amount of thinning
we did in the vineyard around veraison, but the finally tally shows us actually being about even if not slightly higher. There were some vineyards where we noticed yields being down almost 40% but others where the crop was significantly higher than last year.

Photo by Greg Wright

Now as the fermentations near completion, we continually taste for the right moment to drain the individual tanks to barrel to begin their nearly 2 year life of aging.

With the holidays approaching, and the days growing shorter, we are pleased to say the harvest on Spring Mountain this year was a great success, and should deliver another vintage of premium quality wines not only from Vineyard 7&8, but from our friends and neighbors as well!


Wes Steffens
Vineyard 7&8

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

"Rollin' with the Puncheons"

Good Afternoon All,
It has been almost three weeks since I was able to take the time to sit down and give everyone an update on how things are going this harvest. My apologies for being incommunicado but my lack of correspondence is a reflection of how busy the wine production staff has been the last 20 days. Since my last update we processed 108 tons of red fruit here at Round Pond Winery and 40 tons at our custom crush facility. On October 19th we broke the RP record for tons processed in a day by crushing 18.7 tons. We smashed that record the next day by processing 30.2 tons. I am sure that you are all aware that the rains that we had during this period played a large roll in necessitating this frantic schedule.

This year was somewhat of a déjà vu experience from last year in that we encountered two large rain events back to back. The vineyard and winery team learned a few lessons from last year on how the fruit would respond to two such rains so we picked out blocks according to fruit ripeness and the ability of some of the Cab grape clusters to hang through the rains. I think that we played the hand that we were dealt perfectly and achieved the best possible quality out of the vineyard that was attainable this year.

2010 will be the first year that we have made Malbec and Petit Sirah at the winery. I will use these as blenders but early tastings show these wines to be very interesting independently and we may do some small varietal bottlings of these. The Petit Verdot, which always impresses me, has done so again this year. I imagine that I will use a healthy dose in both our Estate Cab as well as the Reserve Bovet Cab. Currently the Sauvignon Blancs are finishing fermentation and they also taste great.


Brian Brown